Booking.com, with its vast audience, is becoming a significant player in attractions, tours and activities. However, it will have to share the revenue with its growing roster of distribution partners, which now include Tripadvisor and TUI.
In their first partnership in the sector, Booking and Viator announced Wednesday that thousands of Viator’s attractions, tours and activities would soon be available for travelers on Booking.com. The companies said that the integration process would initially focus on experiences in major destinations in North America and Europe “with additional locations and inventory to follow over the coming months.”
In a related development as major players maneuver to advantage, Viator rival GetYourGuide acquired Guidatours, based in Versailles, France, Arival reported. While GetYourGuide is growing through acquisition, Booking.com and Viator are expanding through partnerships at the moment.
Viator offers some 400,000 bookable attractions, tours and activities, and through the deal Viator and its operator partners gain a new source of distribution, Booking.com. Viator is considered the leading vendor in the sector, but well-funded rivals such as GetYourGuide in Europe and Klook in Southeast Asia have been gaining ground.
In late 2019 and early 2020, Booking.com restructured its tours and activities business, trimming staff, and opting to partner with leading players instead of trying to scale the business on its own with the help of its Fareharbor unit. So this Viator distribution deal, following last year’s agreement with Musement, builds on that partner strategy as a means of expanding Booking.com’s experiences business.
“Booking quickly realized that contracting experiences is more challenging than signing up accommodation partners,” said Shane Whaley, producer and host at Tourpreneur.com. “Booking is hedging their bets by working with Musement and now Viator rather than making an acquisition.”
Whaley said Booking agreed to partner with Viator because “they offer strength in their supply where Musement is weak and vice versa.”
But Whaley suggested that Viator would benefit from the project only if Booking can offer these tours and activities in targeted manner that is “seamless” for consumers.
“You cant expect to deliver significant bookings by just pasting up a link on a post- booking hotel confirmation page,” Whaley said.
As with the TUI deal, Booking.com and Viator advised tours and attractions vendors to contact Viator Supplier Support if they are interested in participating in this Viator-Booking.com integration. Operators can contact Viator through a “chat us” feature in its management center.
Operators who seek to participate in Musement’s integration with Booking.com can contact Musement.
Booking.com essentially off-loads the operator on-boarding work to these distribution partners.s
A spokesperson for TUI Musement, reacting to the Booking-Viator deal, said TUI Musement will continue to add experiences and work with Booking.com as partners.
“We are very proud to be Booking.com’s first tours and activities partner,” the TUI Musement spokesperson said. “Together, we have successfully met the initial targets and objectives in a still uncertain market situation. During the last year, we have developed a very strong understanding of the experiences desired by Booking.com’s customers, which has enabled us to successfully add thousands of tours, activities and tickets to their platform, connecting our operator partners with new audiences.”
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Photo credit: A Vatican tour on August 8, 2005. Viator and Booking.com partnered to offer such tours to travelers. Northfielder / Flickr.com